Years ago I used to say that my happiness would be complete if I could find a Carnation milk box in good condition. That size of box was perfect to hold file folders, of which I was gradually developing a collection. I did find the box of my dreams and for a time I was content, with sufficient space to corral my files. Lo, how simple life was then! Of course, I graduated to filing cabinets, lots of them, and to auxiliary boxes, the kinds sold often to house magazine collections, and Banker's Boxes that I filled to send my history away. If it hadn't been for the University of Manitoba Archives that took, has taken, keeps on taking, my files, I would have run out of Carnation milk cartons as well as Banker's Boxes a long time ago.
Then there are shoe boxes. I'm always thrilled when I buy a new pair of shoes because i get a new shoe box, also good for filing stuff. Before I began to do quarterly reports for my GST/HST, I used shoe boxes to hold all my receipts and necessary papers. I think a lot of people tend to use shoe boxes for this purpose. I actually wrote a pamphlet for the CLHIA (Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association), the umbrella organization that supplies all the insurance companies with guidelines and information. I called it The Shoebox Guide and it was a mail-away give-away for years, until computers took over and supplied such material online. Then the Association bought my title. I don't know if it still exists. I'll have to look it up some time.
P.S. I looked it up and it's still there. When they first asked if they could buy it from me, I said "Oh, you're going to offer a virtual shoe box guide," and that's what they called it, a virtual sbg. How about that?
My son-in-law collects boxes and he has some gorgeous ones, hand-crafted of beautiful wood, and some of them are very large. I found him a small, pretty one made from a redwood tree, fitted together so closely you can't see the lid from the bottom. You've probably seen lots of little puzzle boxes with secret panels and hidden closures.
Boxes were invented before trunks, I think, to store and carry one's possessions. My husband's grandfather was a cabinet-maker. First-born son of a family firm that made beer, he found religion and renounced his fortune. When he emigrated from Scotland to Canada with his family, he made all his travelling crates out of mahogany, painted black. Once established in the New World, he turned the boxes into fine furniture for his home.
I don't know when the popular, over-used expression, "think outside the box" came into play but I hope it outlives its so-called usefulness soon. There's plenty to think about inside a box. (I want to say until I'm carried out in one, but that would be pushing it.)